debt debs

Personal Debt Wrangler – Had my money head in the sand – but no more!


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7 Financial Lessons Learned from My Parents’ Debt

I am very happy to have a guest post from one of my blogging friends, Erin from Journey to Saving.  I’ve mentioned before about how I worried about the impact that our financial bad habits have had on our kids.  Erin shares her story about this below.

financial-lessons-learnedI am no stranger to debt. While I have only personally experienced student loan debt, consumer debt came knocking on my family’s door decades ago, and nearly destroyed us.

Debs is very open in sharing her mistakes and experiences when it comes to debt and her own family, so that others can learn from her. It’s for that reason I only thought it fitting to share my own story here, with all of you, along with some of the lessons I’ve learned from my parents’ debt.

Debt is a common enemy of ours, and even though it brings dark and trying days, I’ve been able to get a few things out of it after starting on my own financial journey. After reading this post, I hope you’ll be able to as well.

The Beginning

It all started when I was 7. My dad had been laid off. I suddenly began hearing the word “No” much more often, accompanied by frustration at the predicament we found ourselves in.

My 7-year-old brain didn’t comprehend this as I can now, but I knew enough to be scared. What will this mean for us? I often wondered, especially after hearing my parents speak in hushed tones.

Bits and pieces made their way to my ears: losing home, can’t afford, might not recover, and can’t keep this up, were just a few phrases that clued me in to what was happening.

The real warning sign was that my lovely grandma was showing up at our house more often, always with food and household products in tow. It was as if we didn’t have to go grocery shopping anymore!

My childhood self was more than a little naive, thinking my grandma was stopping by just to spoil me with goodies. While that was part of the visit, something deeper was going on, as I saw her attempt to hand my mom cash several times. My mom usually refused.

Thankfully, my family recovered in about two years. My dad worked part-time until he found a full-time position, which put us in a better place. On top of that, my mom began to work full-time once I turned 13.

We went on our merry way, and I was none the wiser to the increasing pile of bills that would slowly bury us in several years.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

financial-lessons-learnedIt was only at Christmastime that I was told money might be a little tight, but my parents always managed to get me what I wanted most. I never truly knew just how bad of a state we were in, until my dad lost his job again, this time, while I was in college. This time, I knew what was going on, and I wanted to run.

My parents had never gotten their financial act together. They had never saved, and they still hadn’t paid off their debt. I was angry at them. Why hadn’t they learned from their mistakes the first time around? Was I the only one that remembered those times? I didn’t know how they let history repeat itself.

What’s worse, my mom became resentful toward my dad. Without his income, we were relying solely on her income, which was only half of what my dad made. I should say that my parents were never extremely high-earners, so while we kept a mostly frugal lifestyle, losing my dad’s income was a huge blow that we never recovered from for many reasons.

My parents have always been prideful and unwilling to take “handouts.” As such, my mom shouldered the burden of making ends meet by herself, even when I offered to help. Likewise, Debs is the primary breadwinner in her family, and I know it’s not easy at all. There are plenty of mom’s out there who are shouldering this burden, and doing an amazing job of it. While it can be a thankless job, your children will grow up to appreciate and respect you for it.

To say this was a difficult time would be an understatement. I can’t even begin to tell you all how happy I was when we finally got through it. There were times I doubted we would. I took mental notes through everything, because I knew I never wanted to go through that again.

I wanted to make sure I could safeguard myself against debt. Student loan debt had been different in my mind, so I sadly didn’t avoid that, but you can bet I won’t take on any consumer debt after what I’ve seen it do. For that reason, I’d like to impart to you the financial lessons I learned from watching my parents suffer with their debt.

7 Financial Lessons Learned from My Parents’ Debt

  1. Save, budget, and track spending. Keep an emergency fund. Please. It kills me to know my parents would have been fine had they actually taken the time to save money. Because they didn’t have anything to fall back on, any unexpected expenses would go straight on the credit cards. It was a vicious cycle they were unable to break out of. My parents also thought they had a good hold on things, but I guarantee that a budget or spending sheet would have opened their eyes.
  2. Communicate. According to my parents, there was a bit of miscommunication going on. My dad believed that they were paying the cards off in full every month, when in reality, they were paying the minimums. This was because my mom balanced the checkbook and paid all the bills. I know Debs has mentioned a few times that she didn’t realize how bad things were because her husband was doing the same. Even though I handle all of our finances, I always keep my boyfriend in the loop. Your other half needs to be included.
  3. Perseverance pays off. I want to inject a little happiness into this post! I’m glad to say that my parents fought the battle and won, in their own way. They are still in debt, but they were able to retire and move to a place that is much more affordable. They purchased their house outright and no longer worry about a mortgage. With the sale of their old house, they were able to put a large chunk toward their consumer debt, and they now have a good buffer in their bank account should they need it.
  4. There’s more to life than possessions. Having a little less than my peers made me realize early on that there’s simply more to life than having the newest gadgets, prettiest clothes, trendiest accessories, etc. My parents never purchased name-brand anything, and they always shopped frugally. They’re both deal-finders. I got a hand-me-down car (from my grandma to my mom, then to me) and only replaced it once it was unreliable to drive. Even though it was a funky teal color, I didn’t have to pay for it, and that made it valuable.
  5. Experiences matter. I’m an only child, and many of my memories growing up involve my parents. None of these memories revolve around things, though. Yes, I can remember the gifts they’ve given me over the years, but what matters most to me now is spending time with them. No one lives forever. So the next time you feel pressured into buying something for your children, remember that prioritizing experiences is the way to go. They will thank you for it some day. Remember to enjoy the little things life has to offer.
  6. Keeping up with the Joneses? Nah. I never got the sense that my parents were trying to keep up with anyone, even though there were plenty of people around us that were clearly questioning our priorities. They were never phased by it. Sure, it’s a little sad to see people from college “living the life,” (or so they want us to believe?), but I’m happy where I am. I have a great boyfriend, two adorable cats, and supportive friends and family.
  7. Don’t give up hope. This has to be the most important lesson I’ve learned. My parents went through a lot in a short span of time, twice. Yet, they’re still together. They pulled through. And I turned out fine. Looking at my student loan balance can make me feel hopeless at times, but I know I’ll reach a $0 balance someday. Being in debt has taught me things I never would have discovered about myself, and for that, I am thankful.

 

financial-lessons-learnedI want to close this out by saying that things could have been much, much worse. Compared to some people, my family had it easy. I am very grateful that my grandma was there to help us through everything, because I’m not sure we would have survived without her generosity.

Don’t let debt take away from you any more than it already has. I know it can be soul-sucking, and that the journey is a long one, but you’ll make it through if you choose to fight. And I know you want to, otherwise you wouldn’t be here!

What are some of the lessons that debt has taught you? Did you grow up around debt? How has it affected you?

erinmauthorpicErin M. is a full-time personal finance freelance blogger and virtual assistant. She’s passionate about helping other millennials get started on their financial journey. She blogs about frugality, being happy with less, and tackling student loan debt on Journey to Saving.

 

PART OF

brokeGIRLrich


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Credit or Cash? Pick Your Poison

credit-or-cashI’ve been thinking about how I spend and pay for my purchases recently.  Ignoring out past financial history, today, I don’t have a problem with credit cards.  We pay ours off monthly and can always be sure this will happen because:

  1. We budget and track our spending
  2. We set up the payment for the due date as soon as the bill is sent electronically
  3. We monitor our cash flow, so I ensure I will have the funds in our account when the payment is made.  I will not go into overdraft, nor will I go below my $2K threshold I must maintain to avoid $9.95 of bank fees.
  4. If, for some reason, our spending is more than usual due to an unplanned emergency spend (examples: broken appliance (we always fix first if possible), car repair), I will transfer money from our Emergency fund/Property Tax account which is sitting at $9K currently with plans to grow to $15K.

I like to use our credit cards due to the cash back we carry on both cards.  One is Visa and one is AMEX (for Costco, though this is now changing and we will have to pick a new Costco card by the end of the year – either Mastercard or Personal Capital).  Currently I have cash rewards accrued on our Visa that will be paid in November as follows:

4.00% cash back – gas & groceries $170.26
2.00% cash back – recurring bills & pharmacy $60.79
1.00% cash back – everything else $161.34
Total cash back reward earned to date $392.39

This is based on stuff I need! I’m getting more than $400 because I lived my life!  Granted, the card carries an annual fee of $99 + $30 for a second card, but we are still ahead more than $265 right now and probably $300 by November.

Some PF reads lately have acknowledged that credit cards have been a problem for them in the past, they’ve tried them again, and still they remain a problem so they have sworn off them.   Travis @ Enemy of Debt says Credit Cards Are Officially NOT For Me and I totally respect that.  If you’re struggling with what to do in this regard, I really recommend you read his views. There’s no right or wrong answer, but there’s a right or wrong answer for you.  [Tweet “There’s no right or wrong answer, but there’s a right or wrong answer for you. #creditcards “]

Brian @ Debt Discipline has just paid off his 109K of debt and blames their families credit card usage for putting them in that position.  Well it actually is due to overspending, but in truth, I agree with Brian.  If credit was not so easy to obtain, families wouldn’t find themselves leveraging the convenience for ‘stuff’ they deem as important or necessary.  They want to get some savings behind them for a few months before they decide if they will try to use credit cards again.  In his words “A credit card is a tool for a consumer, just like a hammer is for a carpenter, when used wisely can be very effective, when used unwisely can cause major damage.”

I was reading on Myles Money the warnings about credit cards to teenagers and students in his post Credit Virgins.  It’s definitely a slippery slope and fair warning needs to be given to those that haven’t been taught to pay them off monthly.  This is something I learned from my parents, never to carry a balance.  I was actually surprised to learn that some people thought it was the only way to build up a credit rating, to keep a balance on your credit card.  There’s a lot of misinformation out there.

So while I know the dos and don’ts of responsible credit use, it’s really spending that I have always had the problem with.  So I’ve been thinking about if using cash would  help me to spend less rather than using credit?  For me, I don’t think it makes any difference.

I realize that credit or cash (or debit)  has no bearing on how much I spend.   Having cash in my hand or wallet and handing it over, does not make me think twice about buying something anymore than handing my credit card over.  It’s like cash is just paper and it has no more relevance to me than that piece of plastic. They are both important, but one is not more important than the other.  I would reluctantly hand either over if I didn’t think what I was buying was (a) necessary (b) reasonably priced (c) in line with our spending goals.    So this reinforces my strategy to use credit wisely.  Then, I can use the once a year* cash back to pay for more of what is necessary, reasonably priced and in line with our spending goals.

What side of the coin are you on – credit or cash/debit?  If you use credit card rewards, what is your preference for type or rewards?  Does paying with cash or debit help you to spend less than with credit?

*Note:  Some cash back cards pay out more frequently.

Part of Friday Jet Fuel #13 and

brokeGIRLrich
travel-cheap


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Travel Cheap: Went to Paris, Skipped The Louvre

Today I’m super chumped to welcome Mrs. Frugalwoods to talk about a combination of two of her three favourite topics!  A lot of my travel has been on an expense account, so while not extravagant it’s not inexpensive either (plus there’s too much work involved – hi ho!).  The Irishman and I want to get back to doing some travel either annually or bi-annually, when we are financially independent.  We’ll be looking for ways to stretch our travel dollar, so I’m just lapping up the ideas and I rate the Frugalwoods as frugal travel extreme!  Mrs.  Frugalwoods ?….

We went to Paris and didn’t go to the Louvre. Yep, it’s another edition of Travel Cheap with Mr. and Mrs. Frugalwoods. I’ve talked about our courageous palates and willingness to travel at unusual times  in the past. Today, I’m thrilled to be here on Debt Debs sharing my cheapo sightseeing tips. Many thanks to Debs for taking a chance on me since this is my first ever guest post. Woo hoo! Hope it’s going OK so far; what do you think, guys?

Use Your Feet

Walking a city is equal parts frugal and the best way to truly experience the local culture. A decent map, a willingness to get lost, shoes (optional), and a sack-o-food are all key to personalized walkabouts. While I’ve shared previously that guide book restaurant suggestions miss the mark nearly every time, the walking tours are totes¹ fabulous! I recommend Rick Steves’ tours in particular. If I were a normal person, and not a frugal weirdo, I’d suggest you buy his guide books. But let’s be honest, you’re probably a frugal weirdo too and wouldn’t anyway. So, go ahead. Check it out from the library and photocopy the pages you need. We both know you’re going to.

Mr. Frugalwoods and I have wandered into the most interesting neighborhoods on foot and been fascinated by poking around true local haunts. Haven’t been arrested for trespassing yet, so we must be doing it right. Public transit is fantastic for far-flung destinations, but short rides around a city can really add up. Best to walk if at all possible.

If you’re an intrepid cyclist with a helmet in your suitcase, many cities offer bike rentals. As long as you’re able to safely navigate foreign traffic lanes and avoid offending locals with your spandex bike shorts, this is an excellent option as well.

Would you enjoy a brief anecdote about why walking is so great? Here you go: In Krakow, Poland we discovered the Krakus Mound. Contrary to what you’re thinking at this moment, I am not making this up. There does, in fact, exist a Krak Mound in Krakow and Mr. FW and I trekked around it.

The abandoned fort in Krakow, beyond which we viewed Krakus Mound

We had our photocopied map and a rough approximation of our location. We ambled through an entirely residential district for a few miles (lots of nice Polish homes and people staring at us: yes, hello, we’re just sort of walking through your neighborhood.) We came upon an abandoned medieval fort/castle/stronghold? in an open field and  tromped around for awhile. We then crested a peak in the field and beheld the Krakus Mound! Fortunately our guidebook offered a bit of insight–it’s a tumulus whose origins and original usages are unknown. But the book went on to note, in so many words, that not a lot of people bother to walk over here. Fabulously beautiful and, you guessed it, free!!

London was a favorite of ours, but let me tell you, it is hard to find a deal there! Everything is expensive. So, we carefully selected the sites we wanted to pay for and then enjoyed the rest of the city en plein air (that just means outside, but I really wanted to sound fancy ). We discovered that we could criss-cross the river Thames on foot via several of its multitude of bridges. This was a perfect method for seeing the city without paying for a ferry boat, bus tour, or a ride in the London Eye ferris wheel. We really are the worst consumers. Using our feet! The nerve.

Basically, Avoid Cars

Don’t take a cab unless you absolutely have no other option. They are, in general, exceedingly expensive and it’s difficult to know if they’re taking you on the most efficient route. You might end up overpaying for a meandering drive.

Renting a car might make sense if you’re headed to a more rural or remote locale, but don’t even think about it in a city center. The cost of parking, gas, insurance…. don’t get me started. On the other hand, if you road trip to your destination–like Root of Good did this past summer–you can save serious dough on transport!

Check out distances ahead of time and determine your walking comfort level. Knowing in advance how far you’re going will help avoid surprise foot blisters/situations* necessitating an unplanned cab ride.

*In Zagreb, I was wearing boots that I’d, uh, glued together following an unfortunate de-soleing incident earlier in the trip and my glue system began to break down. I took on a lot of icy water and, not wanting to cut our evening short, kept walking around. My foot grew increasingly numb and I eventually realized I couldn’t feel it. We hightailed it (still on foot) back to our hotel where Mr. FW (in a gallant gesture) carried me into a warm bathtub. Assuring him I could thaw on my own, he went on a quest for our dinner and returned with super tasty & cheap kebabs and a bottle of Bezalkoholno Kool Beer. In case you’re wondering, Bezalkoholno means “non-alcoholic” in Croatian. And let me tell you, it was not good non-alcoholic beer either. Consider yourself warned and travel armed with a phrase book.

Pursue Outdoor Pleasures

travel-cheap

Our front-row view of the Eiffel Tour as we munched our grocery store picnic

Hiking, biking, walking, picnics! Some of our fondest memories are of free, outdoor journeys. In Kauai, we hiked the Na’Pali coast to a waterfall that we swam under. One of the greatest experiences of our lives–and totally free of charge. In Paris, we simply had to see the Eiffel Tower. But, in lieu of paying something like 10 euros a piece to go up in said Tower, we packed a resplendent sack-o-food, complete with wine, and had a dinner picnic on the lawn facing the Tower. We got to drink wine, not pay a ton of money, and not wait in line an hour for the privilege. Don’t assume you have to pay in order to experience the riches a city boasts!

Free Days!

Scope out discount days at museums and sights ahead of time. Many offer a free day or hours at some point during the week. If you’re a student or veteran, investigate discount opportunities! Also, consider if the admission price is really worth it—I’ve passed on a lot of museums I felt were just too expensive. Know what you enjoy and don’t mindlessly go to every “must-see.” Conversely, some things are pretty reasonable and definitely worth seeing.

Bletchley Park vs. Art Museum #101

Unsurprisingly, Mr. FW and I tend to seek out the more unusual sights in a given city. While I love me some art, I’ve probably been to a hundred art museums. We seriously did not go to the Louvre in Paris. I’d been before (on a college backpacking extravaganza) and while it’s an incredible art museum, it’s just an art museum. Controversial! I know! We instead took a day trip to Versailles outside of Paris. I’m what you might categorize as mildly obsessed with castles and ridiculous displays of royal grandeur, so this was a must and, it wasn’t actually that expensive.

In London, we skipped the Tower of London (while a castle, it’s not an exciting one in my opinion) and other run of the mill sites. Where would some frugal weirdos go instead? Why to Bletchley Park of course! All of the computer geeks reading this just went “oooOOOOoohhh” and everyone else went “say what?” Being in the latter category myself, my sweet software-programming Mr. FW led the charge on this sojourn.

travel-cheap

A working reconstruction of an early-model computer called Colossus, which was built at Bletchley Park

Bletchley Park  was the headquarters of the Allied code-breaking efforts in WWII where new technologies in cryptography and computing were pioneered. I must say, it was fascinating and I even sat through the hour-long lecture on the origins of computing. Seeing as I don’t understand the current world of computing, that was love. Also, we were sitting in the front row (thank you, Mr. FW) and I couldn’t extract myself without crawling over four elderly English couples (who, by the way, were the only other visitors there).

In Nowa Huta, Poland, Mr. FW and I walked several miles (through a forest at one point) to a steel factory in order to gaze upon its classic Soviet architecture. Common for tourists? Definitely not based on the fact that we saw zero other people who weren’t steel factory workers. But, Nowa Huta was a planned Soviet city and we learned a lot just by walking around. It was a cheap train ride from Krakow and a priceless history lesson. Best part? The whole thing was free (well, except for the train ride).

We are all about going to places that are nearly impossible to replicate or visit anywhere else in the world. Hence, an art museum in London that boasts Italian Renaissance paintings? Not my cup-o-tea.

Churches: They Are Free

This is a universal maxim, except in a few rare cases (looking at you, St. Paul’s Cathedral* in London). Cathedrals of epic proportion and endless grandeur are free to tour. Bonus is that they often contain rare and priceless works of art. Remember all those art museums we skipped? Getting art-ed up for free now! The Sagrada Família in Barcelona stands out in my mind since it is still under construction. The ability to witness the craftsmanship that goes into these sacred buildings was, for me, awe-inspiring.

travel-cheap

St. Elizabeth’s Church (aka “The Blue Church”) in Bratislava, Slovakia

An incredible aspect of many European cities is that there are ancient cathedrals and churches everywhere you go! Mr. FW and I would often duck into a relatively unassuming cathedral just to warm up and collect our thoughts for a moment and, almost without fail, be blown away by the art, tapestries (I have a thing for tapestries), and statuary!

*Mr. FW and I really are consummate cheapskates. We attended a church service at St. Paul’s in order to tour it for free. We were deeply respectful and enjoyed the service. But, we also got to see the church for free.

Be Fearless

I leave you with this parting missive: Don’t limit yourself to things within your traditional comfort zone. Be open to new experiences, cuisines, people, and languages. Get a phrase book, learn a few key words, divest yourself of the tourist-tromped paths and above all, observe and do as the locals do. When all else fails, remember that someone else has probably gone before you and been even more of a frugal weirdo (that would be me).

What are your favorite sites and your best frugal sightseeing tips?

FrugalwoodsMrs. Frugalwoods blogs at www.frugalwoods.com about her journey towards financial independence and a rural homestead, which she hopes to reach in three years at the ripe ol’ age of 33. Until then, she documents adventures in frugal city living in Cambridge, MA with her husband, Mr. Frugalwoods, and their greyhound, Frugal Hound. She is a very serious financial writer and certainly is not humorous at all.

 

Thank you Mrs. Frugalwoods for sharing how you really enjoy your travels, and especially when it’s quite reasonable.  I totally agree about the artwork in the churches.  I had the pleasure to attend mass last year at Notre Dame cathedral and then spent hours afterwards seeing everything (and I gave in the collection basket! ;-) ).  Of course I like to stop and talk to people with dogs when I’m traveling too, and I see Frugal Hound is conspicuously absent in this travel post.  Did I mention I’m starting a dog sitting business?

¹Editor’s Note: I add to look up the use of the word ‘totes’ in this context:  From the Urban Dictionary:  “A shorter more convenient form of the word: totally. This word is most commonly used by teenage girls.”  I’m totes cool with that.

Part of Friday Jet Fuel #12

vision-retirement


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What is Your Vision of Retirement?

Today on Worth-it-Wednesday, please welcome Kassandra from More Than Just Money today. We are doing a guest post swap ’cause it’s just fun to mix it up once in a while.  Kassandra is talking about my favourite topic and one that is near and dear to many early FI planners. 

vision-retirementI started earning my own money at the age of 14 when I worked a paper route for the Montreal Gazette. I would wake up every week-day at 4 a.m., zip on my snowsuit and brave the minus 25°C winter mornings to throw neatly place over 100 papers on people’s doorsteps.

Then I’d rush back home to shower, change, eat breakfast and head back out to take the bus for school. I did this because my mom wouldn’t pay for a Nintendo gaming system because she didn’t agree with my argument that it was a need. I bought the Nintendo in short order but a few months in, I gave up the fledgling newspaper career and began a new hustle babysitting for several neighbours. Fast forward 20+ years, a career change and several side hustles later, I am a self-employed EDI consultant and creating a second stream of income as a blogger and freelance writer.

While I was always focused on making money, and spending a lot of it especially during my twenties, I never stopped to consider what I wanted out of retirement.

I knew that it was important to save money for my future. I was smart enough to contribute the minimum required in order to get the company match. Sometimes I surprised myself whenever I deposited part of any income tax refunds into my RRSP account. But back then I was only focused on the here and now when it came to my finances.

So What Changed?

It was a series of events that happened in the past five years. First I realized that I was crushing any hopes of a decent retirement and a comfortable daily existence by having $55K worth of consumer debt hanging around my neck. I got rid of that beast in 3 ½ years.

I had also been reading a lot of personal finance books and sites and some suggested that I needed 70% or more of my pre-retirement salary in order to reasonably retire. When I ran the numbers I about fainted because that was not about to happen with the way I was spending money. Within that previous sentence lay the answer to my problem: the way I was spending money.

Only with time and conscious effort did I adopt a lifestyle of less is more. Along with reducing expenses and increases in income, my husband and I now save and invest a little over 50% of our combined income.

Financial Independence

I learned through reading sites like JL Collins, Mr. Money Mustache and Mad Fientist that financial independence isn’t a pipe dream! I didn’t need to save “70% of pre-retirement salary” in order to retire comfortably. If we already managed to live well on 50% of our income, save and invest the other half, meet all of our needs and with planning indulge in some wants, then we were already on the right track.

With a commitment to living on 50% of our income, and not confining ourselves to a typical retirement scenario, it sparked discussions about what retirement would mean for us.

  • We wanted to travel more frequently while we were still physically able and healthy.
  • If our young son has children of his own one day, we’d love to be able to spend as much time with our grandchildren as we wanted. This desire also extends to wanting to share memorable moments with our son more frequently.
  • Spending time with close friends, especially when they are in need of support during a difficult time. I also plan to spend more time volunteering.
  • Establishing long-term financial security. I had experienced years of living paycheque to paycheque and hated the stress it caused me. As children, both my husband and I saw first hand the effects of financial instability. We don’t want to feel the fear of not having enough ever again.
  • I wanted to work because I gained satisfaction from what I do, not primarily due to needing to earn an income.
  • I didn’t foresee myself ever not working, but having the choice to take extended breaks, be location independent, cut back my hours or not work at all without a negative financial consequence really appealed to me.
  • I wanted to enjoy today a level of flexibility and control in my work life that could extend into retirement. That’s one of the reasons why I transitioned from a salaried position to self-employment.

A Picture In The Frame

Having lived for 38 years, and working for over 22 years, for once I’m very excited about the future. Our financial independence is not too far around the corner as we’re aiming to reach FI before the age of 50. Yeah, I know, that sounds old given the fact that you hear some people claiming FI status at the age of 27!

Our journey with money didn’t start out with being financially astute at the age of 18. I made some big mistakes financially that set me back for years. My husband also struggled for a long time before he began to see success in his career and personal finances. Neither of us can erase the past but we did learn from our shortcomings.

So many tell ourselves that we need to save for retirement, but throw money into our retirement plans without any sense of direction and hope for the best. You need to get real. You need to run the numbers and figure out the answers to standard retirement questions such as:

  • How much do you need every year to live on?
  • When do you want to retire?
  • How much should you contribute to your 401K and a Roth IRA or RRSP vs TFSA?
  • What type of investments should you opt for based on cost, tolerance and length of market exposure?

This all goes without saying. But your reasons for retirement should be the driving force of every investment decision you make.

I often say when it comes to decision making “You need to first know your why”. Retirement should have a picture in the frame. It’s something you should want to dream about and come up with things to do that will put a smile on your face. So tell me, what is your vision of retirement?

About the Author:

vision-of-retirementKassandra Dasent is a self-employed wife and step-mom striving to live life beyond what money can buy. She blogs at More Than Just Money and shares on Twitter about a variety of topics and personal experiences that all intersect with money.

To read my post Mentors I Admired please mosey over to Kassandra’s blog.

 

P.S.  I did the ALS ice bucket challenge last night.  Nothing else to do since we cut the cable cord. ;-)  j/k

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and on Friday Jet Fuel #8


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Misplaced Faith

I’m thrilled to have Kirsten from Indebted and in Debt for a guest post today.  Kirsten writes on something I’ve been struggling with.  Faith that God will provide enough for me so that I can let go of my possessions and spend my time on pursuing the minimalist lifestyle I so badly desire.

Pardon the Mess

I don’t do well with messes. Clutter in my house makes my brain feel cluttered. I can’t think with messes around; I feel antsy, ill-at-ease, on edge. We did ok with controlling clutter until we had kiddo #1, but as the parents among the readers surely know, kids breed clutter. And they spread that clutter everywhere, no matter how much you attempt to stem the tide.

While I was on maternity leave with my second baby (just a few months ago), a friend shared an article on Facebook from a successful blogger who had written about taking away her children’s toys. She noticed an improvement in their behavior – they seemed more focused. And of course things were neater. Boy, that sounded nice.

Decluttering Machine

As I looked around my clutter-stricken house, where I was tripping over small toys (newborn in hand!) and cursing my eldest’s “junk”, I had an aha! moment (hi, Oprah!). I could also get rid of the bulk of her toys or, at the very least, put her toys in rotation.

faith-misplaced

One day worth of mess on maternity leave

I write a private blog for our families, since they live so far away, and I even went so far as to post there “stop sending toys” – said the kids wouldn’t get them. I even started collecting a few toys a day that were “junk” and tossing them. I started off strong.

Then I just sort of stopped…

Lack of Faith

The thing is, both my husband and I lived through some lean times as children. We remember doing without. We went off to college (borrowing our souls to do it) and planned for a better future for our children with our high-falutin’ degrees.

Now that we’ve burned through any sort of disposable money that we had, I think we are scared that we’ve reached the end, that there will be no more “stuff” and that our children will be left to do without like we did when we were children.

No, I didn’t have brand name clothes and I was often in ill-fitting hand-me-downs, but I always had clothes. I always had a roof over my head and never once were our utilities shut off. We ate fine. Mr. Indebted went through tighter spots, but even then, he was always OK.

In comparison, our kids have a roof, air conditioning and heat, plenty of food to eat, and through the generosity of family, nice clothes to wear. They do not lack for anything. Why am I so worried that they will?

I’ve come to realize that the problem isn’t the stuff we jam into the closets. The problem is in my soul.

God has provided for our needs in astounding fashion. But I lack the faith that God will continue to provide. I cling to those jeans because I’m scared they are the last pair of jeans I’ll ever own, never mind they don’t fit. I cling to my worn out running shoes just in case. I cling to my ratty sheets because I may never have another set.

An Exercise in Faith

God didn’t tell me He’d give me everything I ever wanted. But He has promised to take care of me and I realized I need to let Him. I realized I need to turn loose of “stuff” to make more room for Him in my heart and for Him to work wonders in my life.

I’ve started off slow. The first day, I chose one thing to say goodbye to (symbolically, a maternity / nursing dress). The next day, two. I’ve been going for a week now, and I gave up seven things today for a total of 28 things (which just happens to be my lucky number). And you know what? I feel lighter, less worried about tomorrow, and less cluttered in my closets, my brain, and in my soul.

faith-that-God-will-provide

There’s room to breathe. There’s room to let God work.

Do you feel cluttered where you live? Have you ever tried to declutter? If so, did you take baby steps, or just fly through the house?

Indebted-Moms-faithKirsten blogs semi-anonymously at Indebtedmom.com, discussing her faith and family’s large student loan burden, which has cost her an opportunity at being a stay-at-home mom.  Kirsten is an actual rocket scientist who actually doesn’t know a lot of things people think rocket scientists should know. She loves lists, coffee, and NASCAR, but not necessarily in that order.

Endnotes:

I had the highest traffic Monday when my guest post was published at Financial Samurai.  448 views baby!  OK, when I hear people talk about 20,000 views, this is nothing but it’s big for me and it’s my first so I’ll take it all day long!

I haven’t been doing blogger Carnivals lately but I had submitted to one (twice evidently – you’ll see the same post listed two times!) before I moved my blog to self-hosted and I guess it only runs once a month, even thought it’s listed as weekly in the Blogger Carnival site.  Consequently, I never got a pingback on this site, but happened to come across the Carnival and saw my post so I’m linking back here, which I understand is good carnival etiquette.

How to Blog Carnival – The Benefits of Cloud Software Edition

Do you enter blogger carnivals?  Why or why not?

This post has been linked up to
and of Friday Jet Fuel #7

 


94 Comments

Thoughts on Suicide

I never thought the day would come when I would write about this. In fact, I immediately dismissed the idea when it popped into my head.

But here it is staring many, many of us down, like a big festering pimple.

The ‘S’ word.

We have all been touched by the loss of Robin Williams. His uniqueness, his notoriety, his talent, his presence, his diversity, his accents and his laugh will be missed. No doubt his family will miss so much more. Most that only knew him as a celebrity, may have heard of struggles with alcohol and drugs. I had not heard about his depression. But in retrospect, it makes sense.   Issues with any addictions are usually about trying to cope with something like this.

It’s been many years, but I know the darkness and pain in the world of people who face this disease.

I was in my late twenties. My self esteem was in the toilet in the middle of difficult relationship. I felt unloved, unworthy, untalented and just really sad. There was lots of alcohol and risk taking during this period. Then the pain began. Then I started fantasizing about a pain free state. I thought about the hows. I thought about the sadness I would cause my family. I couldn’t bear it, but still the pain persisted.

I soldiered on, I continued to manage to work and I started psychological counseling. I was pretty together when I first met my psychologist but she did some testing on me to evaluate the depth of my depression. That was very appropriate for her to do because I was faking a lot without even realizing it.

As soon as she got the results, she was flabbergasted and went into full damage control, setting up a suicide pact with me. If I ever wanted to do something, I promised her that I would call her first.   She prodded me and needled me on this like a mother bear manages her cub. I barely knew this older Jewish lady, yet I felt comforted that she seemed to know her stuff and was very concerned about me. Someone knew the depth of my secret and that was the first step in opening a tiny crack in my darkness to let the light in. I would learn later the importance of the connection between counselor and patient when I went for therapy at other points in my life. Since she was my first, I didn’t know how good she was, but would find out later with other therapists. [Take away: If one doesn’t click, find another]

The drinking continued and so did the bad thoughts. I thought about accidents, how I could stage them. Jumping off a chair lift, driving into a wall. It scared the $#!+ out of me, but yet I still kept thinking. The pain persisted and I found some relief at the butt of a burning cigarette put into my arm, for which I still bear the scar today. The bad thoughts had jumped out of my head and were now evidenced in physical terms on my body.  I could not deny it any longer. The physical injury and reality of this act was enough for me to say, man I’m <#(%ed up. I guess it was my rock bottom, because I knew if I continued this way, I would be self-harming a lot because it brought great relief. I sought that crack of light and continued to practice my coping strategies which then started having some impact. Once I started moving up instead of down, things moved quite quickly, but like a scuba diver going to the surface, my psychologist didn’t want me to surface too soon in case my recovery was premature and then I would relapse.

This was my worst depression. I was brought out of it without the use of drugs but strictly with very good cognitive behavioural therapy. That’s the best treatment for me. I have been quite low since, with some thoughts but not to the same extent. I’ve also used medication during some periods of depression which helped quite a bit. I’ve been medication and therapy free for five years, but it doesn’t mean I still don’t have some lows. I don’t rule out that I may need either type of treatment again. You just never know. My mental well being is heavily influenced by my life circumstances.

I was thinking that maturity and experience has shown me that eventually I can bounce back so I just have to ride out the storm. But then I look at Robin Williams and wonder if he had never learned that he could ride out the storm. His storm must have been much worse, because from where I sit, I would think he had smooth sailing.  He certainly would not have had any financial worries, could he?  It has taken me a number of months to process feelings about a former colleague who ended her life earlier this year. She was the same age as me, had two grandchildren, beautiful home and seemed to be sailing into the sunset.  I did not see that coming. Not only is it incredibly sad but It scares me as well.   It seemed like she had been able to go even further in her life compared to mine.  Don’t compare.  A young indirect subordinate in her early twenties ended her life when she worked in my team back in the 90’s. She was vivacious and beautiful. I felt incredible guilt that I did not see that coming either. My daughter lost a friend in high school, the daughter of our neighbour.

I’m not even going to mention the number of attempted suicides of people I know or are very close to.  I am just so thankful they have a chance to dance again. Like my cigarette butt scar reminds me, it’s possible to be happy and laugh again.

I recommend some related reads on this topic from other PF blogs:

Depression and Christianity and Student Loans by Kirsten @ Indebted and In Debt

Oh Captain, My Captain by Tanya @ Eat, Laugh, Purr

What has your experience been with suicide or mental illness in your life?
Do you think it’s possible that if you are exposed to suicide a lot it makes you stronger, or more vulnerable or neither?
What was your favourite Robin Williams role or movie?

Part of Friday Jet Fuel #6 and

Messy Money


85 Comments

25 Year Anniversary – What’s in a number?

Well, we reached a milestone yesterday.  25 year anniversary of marriage.

What’s in a number?  It depends on what you are looking at.  If you are married a long time but there is no quality, how much is that worth?

On the one hand, I’m feeling a little guilty about the lack of fanfare we did to celebrate this occasion.  On the other hand, one day does not a marriage make.

We did stay an extra night at Dad’s cottage, coming back early yesterday morning, but we forgot to toast and drink the champagne we bought on Monday night.  We’ll save it … but not for too long.  $13.95 spent but deferred.

I was surprised and happy to find this in my front hall this morning.
25-year-anniversary

No, it’s not an anniversary present.  We’ve been talking about getting one for a few months, but just didn’t manage to get out to make the purchase.  The Irishman was in the vicinity of a store that we had a store credit with and so he bought it.  Cost $14.95 but $0.00 for us today and value, immeasurable.  I’ve been wanting this to save on laundry costs, and yes, I can calculate the savings down the road.  But for right now, it’s not even the most important thing.  It’s the fact that he did go a bit out of his way and get me something I really wanted that will help us.  It really is the small things that matter.

I’m off for the week, with big plans to get a number of things accomplished around the house.  We are 50% through the week so far and I’ve accomplished a bit fat “0” on this list.  On the other hand, I spent yesterday with Monkey Butt while he worked.  Today, said Monkey, came over for a swim and Grandpa turned on the pool heater for the occasion.  Money spent – $10, value received – priceless.

My sister texted me to see if I would go with her for a pedicure.  Sure my toe nail polish is 67% effaced, but my nails are trimmed and heels polished thanks to a husband who likes to give me ‘foot’ jobs.  $42 saved until next time.

There’s 140 days until Christmas, but who’s counting?  As long as we’re still on this earth together to celebrate with family around, I’ll be happy.  Life is precious.   But I won’t worry about tomorrow.  I’m doing the what feels right for today, and that’s all that matters.

I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow blogger for coffee yesterday.  Almost 150 minutes spent in great discussion.  It felt like 45.  1 blogger I’ve met in real life.  Countless others I haven’t but still call friends.

6 shout outs to those who shared my posts recently:  Shannon @ Financially Blonde (hope she’s having a good vacation!),  Kipp @ Frankly Frugal Finance  and Edwin @ Cash Syndrome  and Stack the Chips (some new blogs I’ve recently discovered), Raquel at Practical Cents (great home owner advice) and J. Money @ Rockstar Finance (don’t know what made my day more, the 391 views I received that day or the fact that he labelled my post as funny!)

So you see, life is filled with silver linings.   Here’s to 25 more years!

25-year-anniversary

Part of Friday Jet Fuel #5 and

Debt Discipline


65 Comments

The Lemonade Stand Book Review and Giveaway

I was tickled pink (as in pink lemonade!) to review Shannon Ryan’s new children’s book “The Lemonade Stand”.  I am a new grandmother of an eight month old who has been reading bed time story books since he was only 2 months.  I now have a new appreciation for the power of the written and illustrated word for children of all ages.

The Lemonade Stand – by Shannon Ryan

the-lemonade-standThe Lemonade Stand shares the desires of our children to meet their own needs for play, their insatiable capacity to love and the want to help others.  It shows a way to fulfill those dreams in a practical and totally achievable manner.

Shannon incorporates her own girls, Lauren and Taylor, in the story, along with her little godson’s, who have not quite achieved the wisdom of their money savvy friends.   Ryan and Christopher have big eyes full of want as they see things on the toy shelf while shopping with their mother.

The boys do not have enough money in their pockets and their savvy Mom is not willing to indulge their every whim.  Lauren understands their disappointment and provides some hope that they can do some things to improve the situation all on their own.

Without, giving away the plot, although you may have some predictions ;-) , the two boys learn all about entrepreneurship, marketing, raw materials and associated costs and finally profit margins.  There’s a little math thrown in there too, for good measure!

What I liked about the book was the demonstration of self-sufficiency but also the wise allocation of the profits made against wants, future needs and charity.  Children can identify themselves easily in these characters, and in doing so realize they too have the capacity to do whatever it takes to make their dreams come true.

As a mom of four grown children, I second guess my past behaviours and what I have taught my kids growing up about money.  I probably could have done better, knowing what I know now, even though they’ve all turned out pretty good in matters relating to money and otherwise.

Shannon gave me permission to share ‘The Lemonade Stand” with my daughter, a new Mom who is also very frugal.  She liked the book too and in her words “it teaches some important life lessons such as learning the value of money, how to share, how to work as a team with others and how to save money for something you really want.”  All of these are things they hope to teach their son as he gets older.

Personally, I will be happy to read this book to my grandson, and given that he’s already standing at eight months, I think he will be opening his own lemonade stand anytime soon.  ;-)

The-Lemonade-Stand-Shannon-Ryan

Collage of Illustrations from The Lemonade Stand by Shannon Ryan – Illustrated by Aaron Kizer

The Lemonade stand is skillfully illustrated by a very talented Aaron Kizer.

How to buy The Lemonade Stand Book

If you are interested in purchasing this book for your children, nieces or nephews or grandchildren you can use the following coupon code (TOUR3114) to get $3 off the book at The Heavy Purse Store.

The Lemonade Stand – iPad Mini Giveaway

July 14-31, 2014

Sponsored by The Heavy Purse

As part of the book launch, The Heavy Purse is offering an iPad Mini giveaway raffle

Co-hosted by Are Ya Gonna Eat That, Broke Millennial, Budget and The Beach, Budget Blonde, Budgeting for More, Busy Mom Budgets, Cash Cow Couple, Cents and Sensibility, Club Thrifty, Color Me Frugal, Debt Debs, Debt Roundup, Disease Called Debt, Eat Laugh Purr, Enemy of Debt, Eyes on the Dollar, Femme Frugality, Financially Blonde, Frugal Rules, Living Richly Cheaply, Luke 1428, Making Sense of Cents, Money Saving Dude, Monster Piggy Bank, Not Now Mom’s Busy, Reach Financial Independence, Shoeaholic No More, Stacking Benjamins, Tackling Our Debt, The Broke and Beautiful Life, The Finance Girl, The Frugal Farmer, The Random Path, Thrifty Dad, VeegMama and Young Adult Money. Join Lauren and Taylor in their continuing money adventures in The Lemonade Stand by Shannon Ryan, CFP®.

Shannon is a Mom on a mission to help busy parents teach their children simple, value-based principles that guide their money decisions and support their long-term financial well-being. “Everyone handles money. Unfortunately, not everyone does it with confidence. Money has long been a taboo topic in many homes, which makes it even harder for parents to know where to start or what to teach. So I created a series of children books to help parents ease into these important conversations. Financial literacy is one of the most loving gifts you can give your children, and I encourage everyone to make money conversations a priority in your home.”

We’re Giving Away an iPad Mini to One Lucky Reader!

Help us celebrate the release of The Lemonade Stand and join Shannon in her mission to increase financial literacy in both children and adults.

The giveaway runs from July 14-31, 2014 and is open worldwide.*

* A winner located outside of the United States will receive a cash equivalent prize via PayPal. a Rafflecopter giveaway


41 Comments

Blogger Awards and Carnivals – Why I blog?

liebster-button-blogger-awardsThe Cottage Retreatist nominated me for a Liebster award which is very kind of her.  As far as blogger awards go, this is a for new and small blogs (less than 200 followers).  Here is more information about The Liebster Award from The Wording Well.

There are some questions I need to answer and then I pick 5 nominations as well.

The questions

1)   Why did you start your blog?

I decided to blog as we are over two years into a very long debt repayment journey and I was starting to suffer from a bit of debt fatigue.  I wanted to increase my motivation but also help others who need to take the steps that we did.  I want to show that there is life during debt repayment and a frugal living.  So I thought what better way to combine both goals into one by working through my blog.

Originally, I was thinking of asking my pastor if I could offer financial tips to any members in our church community who needed some assistance.  But the more I thought about it, I wondered if it would be too difficult because people wouldn’t want to come forward, my pastor may not want to be in the middle of it or what if there were legal implications.  I’m still thinking of this as a possibility down the road or maybe when I retire.  I really do want to help people, so at this point I am still learning even more financial strategies and getting experience at it, so it’s all good.

2) What is your favourite blog post so far and why?

I have a few favs but I guess my best fav is Mother’s Money Moments.  It kinda sums up my life and what makes me tick and was filled with emotion.

3)  What is your perfect Sunday?

A sunny day at my Dad’s cottage when I have Monday off and don’t have to go to work until Tuesday!  Swimming, playing scrabble, a little sudoku, maybe a walk, some reading… oh and a nap.  Laughing and chatting about life with family and neighbours.  Eating leftovers for dinner, cheap and not much fuss or cleanup.

4)  What is your favourite quote?

My favourite quote is my own.  It is my twist on “You have to eat a pound of dirt before you die”.  Well in Canada, we are on the metric system so I say, “You have to eat .6 kg of dirt before you die”.

5)  Describe yourself in 3 words.

Determined, genuine and lazy.

Now I’ll be honest with you, I’ve got some additional bonus questions here because I didn’t read the instructions well and started answering the same questions that Cottage Retreatist had, before I realized I can make my own questions up for my nominees.  So since I had already answered these three ones that CR had, I will let you see them as well.  No point crying over spilled milk!

a)  How long ago did you start your blog?

I started mid March, 2014, so I’ve been blogging for four months.  I started in WordPress.com and actually just migrated over to self-hosted wordpress.org last week.  Well that was a big job.  You can read all about it on two posts I did, especially if you are looking for some tips and tricks.

  • Moving Blog from WordPress.com to Self-Hosted WordPress.org – This addresses the migration process and some of the lessons learned from mistakes I made or things I had to figure out, all called out in the form of gotchas!

  • Migrate WordPress.com to Self Hosted – The Live Version – After settling things in there were still some things I was not happy with or that remained outstanding and so I reached out through Twitter to get some blogging buddy assistance and it worked very well!  I blogged live about what I was doing to address the issues over the space of a couple of days (Sat to Mon) until all open items completed and I could take my construction man picture off that post!

b)  What is your favourite thing to blog about?

Personal experiences and tying them back to personal finance, career, stress management and mental health.  I think it helps to add credence to what you are writing about if you can walk the talk and give examples and analogies.  I just love reading blogs that have personal stories in them too, so I want my blog to be that way as well.  Oh, and I also like funny.  Sometimes I’m just in a strange mood and I can put some wacko stuff on these pages, and other times I’m more serious or philosophical.  I guess if I someone was to describe my blog as one of variety, I would be very pleased with that.

c) Do your family and friends know you blog?

I think I blogged for at least a month and no one knew.  Then I confided in my husband.  Next my sister.  Then a close friend.  Then my children and just this past weekend to my Dad!  And not one of them reads my blog!  At first I didn’t want them reading it, then I did, and sometimes again I don’t.  I try to keep things respectful, but if I’m going to be sincere and open about the ups and downs of our journey, I can’t hold everything back or paint only a rosy picture all the time.  Sometimes a girl’s gotta rant.  I want people who read to feel comfortable in confiding that things are not always smooth sailing for them either.  This is what personal finance camaraderie is all about.  Don’t sweat the small stuff, but if you do, please share.  ;-)

My nominations

It was easy to come up with this list.  I had too many to choose from so I’m going to give you a bit of variety here in these nominated blogs:

  • John @ The Hill of Beans – I found John’s blog when I was reading a minimalism blog and I found things there that inspired me.  It’s very peaceful and comforting at his blog.  I suggest this is a good one to read if you are stressed or right before you go to bed.
  • Jason @ Islands of Investing – Jason’s blog is also very comforting (hey do I sense a trend, here?) even though he writes on investments!  Can you imagine that?  I like to read investment blogs too, because I’m preparing to manage my our investment portfolios by myself and I need all the help I can get.
  • Asset Grinder is quite the character and is another investment blog I follow.   He really does his homework and has lots of insight to give on investments. He helps his MIL and buddies out with their retirement and debt strategies.  Nothing like giving back!
  • Hypocritical Accountant is a very new blogger who has just gone back to work after maternity leave.  She’s trying to find her groove balancing work and family, and boy, I know how that can be!
  • Kayla @ Shoeaholic No More is last but certainly not least.  She’s got debt repayment, decluttering, house and car maintenance, pet care, cross-fit, part-time job, blogging, and a whole lot of busy going on!  I hope to gain some of her energy vicariously through reading her blog.  ;-)

liebster-pretty-blogger-awardsFor my nominees  – the new questions!

  1. Why did you start your blog?
  2. What is your favourite blog post so far and why?
  3. What part of the day do you like best and why?
  4. What is your favourite quote?
  5. Describe yourself in 3 words.

No worries if you don’t want to participate, but if you do, it’s great to spread the camaraderie.  You can add the Liebster image to your blog – pick a button of your choosing (I’ve included the feminine and masculine versions of the button here) by downloading and adding to your post and in your sidebar if you wish.  Prepare you own 5 questions (you can reuse or modify above) and let your own 5 nominees know.  Link back here in your post as well, to let me know who you have selected so I can go and read.  Oh, I almost forgot…have fun!

liebster3-blogger-awards

blogger-awardsMore Blogger Awards

Speaking of blogger awards, last week I was put up against some great competition at the CNA Finance MVP Awards and Josh felt sorry for me and kindly decided to put my name in the hat again because he didn’t realize I was a relatively new blogger.  So now I’m up against some other steep competition in the new blogger category – Shoeaholic No More and Practical Cents.  I read and love both of these blogs, so it’s kind of bittersweet to be in this competition with them.  But, I don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth, so if you voted for me last week and still want to again, please email CNAFinanceHelp@gmail.com or leave a comment at post linked above.  Good luck gals!

blogger-carnival

Image courtesy of Nathan Greenwood / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Blogger Carnivals

Here’s some blogger carnivals my posts have been featured in this week.  Thanks to the hosts for including me!

Financial Carnival for Young Adults @ Millennial Cents – Debt Debs Super Duper Advice

Lifestyle Carnival @ My Life I Guess – Top Ten Reasons You Need to Manage Your Finances

Yakezie Carnival @ Smart Budgeting – Canada Day – Be Mindful and Be Brave!

Looking forward to getting back to personal finance posts next.  Enough of this blogging stuff for a bit!

sciatica-x-ray


35 Comments

B-A-C-K-S (Break50.com, Anti-spam, CNAFinance MVP, Kisses & Kudos, Self-hosted)

Hi folks

I had a good Canada Day weekend, after a rough start, which is why I’ve entitled this post BACKS!  The Irishman tried to change the front brakes on the truck himself.  We had paid $754.76 parts and labour, earlier in the week to have the rear brakes done.  He decided to do the front himself because they are less complicated and he figured he could save the labour charge.  Parts alone were $395.27!  Yikes!  It’s been an expensive week.

sciatica-x-ray-self-hostedAnyhoo, he struggled to get the rotor off because there was rust and corrosion and then couldn’t get the brakes on because they gave him the wrong brakes!!  They gave him rear brakes!   So he rushed to take them back and get the right parts before we needed to babysit and then he didn’t have the right receipt.  So he dropped me off at my grandson’s, so my daughter could leave to go to a wedding and ran back home to find the receipt and get back to the dealership before the parts department closed.

He ended up having to finish the job on Sunday morning and it was a lot of work.  Consequently he is complaining that his back is sore which isn’t good since he had back surgery 7 years ago.   This is his x-ray before his surgery where they put two titanium rods in his back.  I have another photo post surgery of the incision but it’s too gross to show you.

I told him to go to physiotherapy.  I hope he listens and I don’t have to nag him.  Every time he complains about it I’m going to hold up a sign with PHYSIO on it.

Short post (sure you say! ;-) ) today, with various updates on some topics.  So I’ll get started real quick, continuing with the BACK theme.

Break50B – Break50.com Interview

Speaking of brakes (breaks), I was very pleased to be interviewed at Sov’s site, Break50.com,  The Personal Debt Wrangler – an interview with Debt Debs.   Discussions of net worth and Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich (which I’m currently reading) over there.  Worth checking out as there’s information I have never yet disclosed on this blog.  A big thanks to Sov, for his hospitality.

Canada-anti-spam-legislation

flickr: janet galore

A – Anti-Spam Legislation

Canada launched new anti-spam legislation on Canada Day, July 1, 2014.  In order to comply, I believe I have to get express permission from people in Canada who subscribe to my blog via email.  I also need to remind them how to opt of receiving emails, at any time.  Since this is a fairly new blog, I don’t have  a lot of email subscribers, 9 to be exact (most subscribe via WordPress reader or blog reader tools (Bloglovin’ or feedly).  In addition, I don’t know if my email subscribers are Canadian or not.

But in order to be compliant, I did managed to send out an email using Google Forms to get their express permission to continue to receive my blog posts via email.  Google Forms was actually pretty easy to use, although I made a boo-boo with my first email out and forgot to ask the subscribers to identify themselves.  I was getting confirmations back that they still wanted to subscribe to my blog, but I had no way to know which of the 9 subscribers was responding.  So I sent out a second email.  Since then I have received responses back from 3 subscribers with their email (Thank you! :-D ) and another 4 affirmations but with no email indicated.  But I’m suspecting that the four are from the first mail out, so theoretically I have only received 3 out of 9 responses and I should be unsubscribing the other 6 from my blog (Boo Hoo! :-( )

I wanted to do a blog post about how to use Google Forms to do this.   I may still, or I may update this post afterwards, but basically, here is the content of my Google Form:

Anti-Spam Consent

I would like to send a very sincere thanks to all of you who have subscribed to my blog debtdebs.com.

Canada is launching a new anti-spam legislation on July 1, 2014 and to comply with this I would like to obtain consent from you individually by confirming that you agree to continue to receive messages from me whenever I post a new blog entry at debtdebs.com.

You may unsubscribe to receiving these messages at any time by selecting Unsubscribe at the bottom of any email you receive from debt debs or by contact me at debtdebs@gmail.com.

If I do not receive a response from you, I will remove you from the mailing list.

I’m looking forward to continued sharing of my personal finance related stories with you.

Thank you and best regards,
Debs

For more information about Canada’s anti-spam legislation visit.

http://fightspam.gc.ca/eic/site/030.nsf/eng/home

* Required
Do you provide consent to continue receiving emails from debtdebs.com? *

By selecting

My email address is *

This is needed to match responses with responders

 

CNA-Finance-PF-MVP-Award-Vote-for-meC – CNA Finance Personal Finance MVP Award Nomination

As I mentioned last post, my blog has been nominated for the CNA Finance MVP Award.  I was quite tickled given the caliber of the other two nominees.  If you like what you are reading here, there is still time to vote until the end of the day Wednesday.  The votes will be counted Thursday morning.  You can vote by leaving a comment in the post or send an email to CNAFinanceHelp@gmail.com!  Thank you so much for all those who have voted so far!  It’s a long shot for me, but I really appreciate the sentiment, very truly.  :-)

self-hostedK – Kisses & Kudos

Since I’ve been away and not near the internet for a few days, I have a lot of catching up to do.  I see many have re-tweeted my post from Saturday and left some nice comments.  Thank you very much!  I’ll be around visiting blogs for the rest of the week.

S- Self-hosting (Moving Blog from WordPress.com to Self-hosted)

I’ve decided to move my blog from the awesome WordPress.com hosted site to a self-hosted site and that will be happening this week (all things going well, crossing fingers and toes!).  There’s a few reasons behind this, most pressing reasons listed first:

  1. I’ve been asked to participate in an event that will utilize Rafflecopter, and this plug-in cannot be deployed on WordPress.com hosted blogs.
  2. I found out when co-hosting a FinSavSat blog hop in May, that I couldn’t display the other blog posts that were participating in the usual nice format that shows the post and associated picture.  Instead I had to have this dumb little frog’s head, that readers would need to click on to see all other linked posts.  Since I would like to co-host that blog hop again and maybe others, I need to be able to install plug ins on my site.  Full stop.
  3. Initially I did not want to pay anything for my blog, since I felt I was being hypocritical, since our large outstanding debt was the primary catalyst for starting.  I finally got fed up with the annoying WordPress word in the blog url (debtdebs.wordpress.com) and bought my domain name for $26 after I realized I wanted to continue to devote my time and grow my blog.  Now that I realize how much work is involved and still want to continue, I need to set myself up for potentially monetizing my blog down the road.  My initial intention was to grow my readership first, and then decide.  Now I realize that delaying the move will only result in more work down the road.  So that, in addition to the above two factors makes me realize that I should do this now and not delay.  If I had known this before, I probably would have started out as self-hosted.

Happy-4th-July
I must admit, I’m a little nervous.  I’m not technically inept, and I like troubleshooting, but I would rather that things go smoothly because who needs the hassle?  I would rather devote my time to writing and reading other blogs.

So despite my good intentions above, if things seem a little quiet here and from me for the next few days, then you will know why.

Wishing all U.S. based readers and bloggers and very fine Independence Day!  Happy 4th of July!

Be back later.  :cool:

B – Do you ever do your own brake jobs?
A – Any Canadian bloggers done anything similar for the Anti-Spam legislation?
C – Can you vote for me?
K – What are your plans for Independence Day?

S –  Share any words of advice for moving from WordPress.com to self hosted?